Other Sports

No visas for para-cyclists

Ghana’s participation in next week’s 2010 DCI World Para-cycling Championship in Canada is in doubt as authorities are yet to secure visas and finalise travel arrangements for the para-cyclists who are representing Ghana in the competition.

The nine-member team is originally scheduled to depart Accra for Canada Saturday August 14, arriving on August 15, two days before the competition commences on Tuesday August 17.

But at press time yesterday, the Cycling Association of Ghana was yet to receive funds to be used for visa processing and the purchase of air tickets for the team. The Association had channelled its request through the National Sports Council to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and then to Cabinet.

Our sources stopped short of saying that government said funds were unavailable.

Meanwhile, the Para-cyclists say they are compelled to believe, perhaps, that government is not keen on their participation due to the nation’s low regard for disability sports.

Even so, the team has praised officials of the Cycling Association of Ghana for supporting it and working feverishly to ensure they are able to participate in the competition. So far, the Association is said to have sponsored the team’s camping and has negotiated their per diems and bonuses.

When contacted, Sahnoon Mohammed, Chairman, Cycyling Association of Ghana, could not confirm whether the team will be able to travel, saying “We are counting on the government.”

According to him, a few of the Para-cyclists might be selected to go for the competition if funds eventually turn out to be insufficient for the entire team.

Ghana is being represented by physically disabled cyclists drawn from various parts of the country. Ajara Mohammed is the only female member of the team. The males are Raphael Botsyo Nkegbe (captain), Elvis Alipui, Alem Mumuni, Ernest Ayisi, Richard Mensah, Bismark Kyei, Abraham Armah, and

Alfred Adietey Sowah.

According to the team, government had promised to fully support it to compete in the Canada 2010 championship. So when Public Agenda visited the team last Wednesday, the cyclists asked government to honour its promises to them.

“Ghana should be able to send us. When they send us we will raise the flag very high,” Alem Mumuni pledged.

Supporting Alem’s pledge, Elvis Alipui promised to win two medals for Ghana. But the most important thing is to get there.

Team manager, Shaaban Mohammed, told Public Agenda on telephone that the team was well-prepared for the competition. He was optimistic that the team could return to Ghana with a minimum of four medals. He was certain that Alem, Elvis and team captain Raphael could will gold medals in their respective categories.

Ghana qualified for the championship alongside Burkina Faso during last June’s ten-nation African Para-cycling Championship in Ouagadougou. Ghana was represented at the championship by five athletes who together won eight medals, including three gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze.

The performance of the team is said to have attracted attention from the International Cycling Union (UCI) which has offered to partly fund Ghana’s participation in the Canada championships to the tune of US$ 1 8,000.

The team fears that if Ghana misses out on the competition it could be sanctioned and might lose its chances of hosting the African Para-cycling championship next year.

Source: Public Agenda